Planned expressways and highways, via the RDA.
The Colombo Southern Expressway opened to much fanfare and one accident. It’s still a great thing. To quote a tweet from Hajara: “It took just 55 minutes from Galle to Kottawa.. And I am supposed to believe this is #LKA. I love #E01 =]” What you may not know is that highways are being planned from Jaffna, Kandy, Katunayake, and a ring road around Colombo. Soon much more of the country will be an hour or two away.
The Current System
The basic problem now is that local and national traffic uses the same road. The Galle Road can take you to Pizza Hut, or Galle. On the Galle Road I have A) parked B) done U-Turns C) gone 100 kph D) walked E) eaten roti and F) been stumbling drunk. None of this stuff should be done on the same road. Sri Lankan roads are both highways and byways, which is a bad combination.
The fix is making the current roads the ‘old’ roads, where local and some national traffic can pass, and making new highways purely for national traffic. These new highways won’t have trishaws, motorbikes, bullock carts or tractors. It’ll just be cars and trucks and buses. This type of separation is good for everyone involved.
Traditionally, road construction is an almost generational affair. Indeed, these current plans date back decades and are almost apolitical. The difference is that the Rajapaksa government is actually getting them done (late and overbudget), but done. What’s next?
- Colombo – Katunayake Expressway (25km)
- Southern Expressway (126km)
- Outer Circular Highway (28km)
- Colombo – Kandy Highway (98km)
- Katunayake – Padeniya – Anuradhapura (153.3km) Highway
Most interesting to me is the circular road around Colombo and the connections to the airport. The road around Colombo will mean that, say, Galle to Anuradhapura traffic won’t need to go through traffic, again separating the local and national. It will also boost property values and business in new areas not in the city center, but still accesibly. The North Central district (Anuradhapura) is one of the fastest growing in the country, and they should soon have a direct link to the airport. In addition, while Jaffna is happy to have the A9 open, it’s still like 10 hours to get up there. A proper highway (and the Yal Devi rail line being reconstructed) can help Jaffna reclaim its place as Sri Lanka’s second city.
The outer circular and Colombo-Katunayake (airport) roads are scheduled for 2012. So are the Colombo-Kandy and Colombo Anuradhapura highways. The first phase of the Colombo-Kandy Highway (to Ambepussa) is scheduled for 2016.
Assuming everything gets late and overbudget as usual, we’ll still have a drastically different Sri Lanka by 2020 and, I daresay, a much more rational one.